After being reinstated into the WWE Hall of Fame last month, Hulk Hogan has opened up about his apology to the WWE roster and the reaction that it received.
Part one of an interview with Hogan aired on the premiere episode of The Apter Chat podcast with Bill Apter and Josh Shernoff this week. Much of the interview focused on Hogan addressing the WWE locker room at Extreme Rules, which came almost three years after he was fired from the company in 2015 when a racist diatribe from 2006, where he used the n-word multiple times and admitted to being "racist, to a point," was made public.
Hogan said there was "radio silence" between him and WWE during the first year and a half after he was fired, then Paul "Triple H" Levesque reached out to him with a text saying he hopes Hogan is doing as well as he can. Hogan said they' started talking more over the last year, with Hogan eventually having what he described as a great conversation with Vince McMahon. Hogan said he talked back and forth with WWE every couple of months or so leading up to his apology in July.
"One of the things that we agreed upon was...Triple H and Vince, I talked to both of them, they said, 'Well, the first thing that we want to do is bring you back and we want you to talk to the black athletes,'" Hogan said. "And I said no, I’m not gonna do it. If I come back, I want to talk to everybody. Because what I did not only hurt the business, it hurt white, black, every athlete you have. Japanese. Everybody that’s involved and loves this business. What I said hurt this business. It kind of like, dropped us all down a notch. And so I want to come back and talk with everybody. So, that's kind of how it happened."
Hogan said he had two trains of thought when he met with the WWE roster. The first was apologizing and being accountable for the comments that led to him being fired. Hogan mentioned that the comments were made 12 years ago and that he didn't even remember he said them until 2015. He said he was in a dark place then and was speaking in a fit of anger, but everyone has a woe-is-me story and an excuse. He called his 2006 comments inappropriate, out of context, hurtful, and unacceptable.
His second train of thought was telling the locker room that WWE is the biggest spotlight in the world and that they shouldn't make mistakes like he made. He urged them to be careful because everyone has cell phones and cameras now.
The New Day and Titus O'Neil issued statements in the days after Hogan's apology. New Day wrote that they were indifferent about him being back in the Hall of Fame and that they find it difficult to just forget when someone makes racist and hateful comments -- regardless of how long ago they were made or the situation they were made in. They said their opinion on Hogan could possibly change if he makes a genuine effort to change.
O'Neil wrote that he believes in second and third chances for people who show real remorse, but he was critical of Hogan saying that he didn't know he was being recorded when the racist comments were made. O'Neil said Hogan's apology lacked "true contrition, remorse, and a desire to change."
During his appearance on The Apter Chat, Hogan addressed how the wrestlers in WWE reacted to him.
“A lot of people accepted my apology, and a lot of people heard what they wanted to hear," Hogan said. "And a lot of the narrative that came out of the meeting was on point. A lot of the narrative was really different. I was surprised to hear some people interpreted what I said, you know, that I was just sorry I got caught on camera or whatever they interpreted, but I never said that.”
Hogan also mentioned the "brotherhood" that exists in pro wrestling and claimed there are a few wrestlers who don't understand it in his situation.
"I just hope the brotherhood can get back to the way it was," Hogan said. "Because when you're in the ring and somebody is bodyslamming somebody or piledriving somebody, you protect your brother. And you make sure physically they're safe. And outside the ring, you’re supposed to protect your brother. In this case, it’s a situation where 75, 80, 90 percent of the wrestlers are protecting me and they’re giving me another chance to move forward. There’s just a few wrestlers that kinda like don’t understand the bond and the brotherhood of wrestling. If someone makes a mistake, you need to forgive them and move on and try to let them prove themselves.”
Hogan said he wishes he could have one-on-one conversations with people who don't know him so that he can try to explain himself better. He brought up that he asked if anyone had any questions at the end of the meeting at Extreme Rules and said Mark Henry was the only person who stood up to ask him something.